Archive for February, 2012

29th February 2012, Wednesday


The winter so far has been relatively kind to our hardier bumblebees.  We have had worker buff tailed bumblebees Bombus terrestris foraging in our garden in 9 out of the last 10 weeks.  One queen was even seen in flight on 7th February when there was a layer of snow on the ground – perhaps an individual that had been disturbed.

There has been a bit more variety this week with the appearance of the early bumblebee Bombus pratorum and the tree bumblebee Bombus hypnorum.  This latter species, first seen in the UK in 2001, looks like it is getting well established in the village.  Both species were feeding on shrubby honeysuckle Lonicera fragrantissima which has been a good nectar source throughout the winter.

Also out today was a red admiral Vanessa atalanta, my first butterfly observation of the year.

28th February 2012, Tuesday

Med Gulls continued

In a recent post Barry appeals for help in reading local colour rings. I already have details of both birds as they have been seen in previous years.

3L56 was ringed on 01 June 2005 in Holland. It wintered in Spain in both 2005 and 2006 before being next sighted in Holland during the summer of 2007. Other sightings have included Isle of Wight and Titchfield Haven before being seen at Pett Level in March 2011, re-appearing at Pett Level  yesterday.

R17X was also ringed in the nest on 01 June 2000 in Holland. It has been read at least 40 times as it wintered in Northern France. On 12-14th March 2011 it was on Pett Level, on the 17th March it was at Hayling Island before being re-sighted at Elms Farm on 26th March 2011 and 27th February 2012.

28th February 2012, Tuesday

Islands, islands everywhere…

Island in front of Parkes hide being raised and enlarged this morning.
By next weekend all of the island building at Ternery Pool will be complete. We have raised the height of 7 islands, and made them a bit bigger, and created about a dozen new islands and added lots of new shallow areas. The water level of Ternery Pool was pumped down 30cm to make work easier and it is taking a surprisingly long time to re-fill, so we will not see the final result for a couple of weeks. But already the gulls are busy squabbling over territories… and soon the terns will return.
For a couple of videos of the work… Read the rest of this entry »

28th February 2012, Tuesday

Med. Gull colour rings

If you are out birdwatching in the RX area at this time of year you will see and hear Mediterranean gulls and many of them have colour rings, so please try to read them – usually needs a telescope – and let me know ( please include day/time/place). It will help us to understand more about this increasing species – where do they come from, where do they feed, where do they go in the winter? This morning at Ternery Pool I read 2 rings: left white – 3L56 and right green – R17K and here is a photo I took with my phone through the telescope.
right green – R17K

27th February 2012, Monday


Its been a long time,but there has not been much to report, but it was a better day yesterday, Sunday 26th February 2012. Arrived at 6.40am just after sunrise,with the marsh having quite a heavy frost, the best birds seen were now the usual four Pink.F.Geese, 60 W.F.Geese, and the Bar. H. Goose present with the Graylags, and Canada Geese. There were only 15 Brents left out of 200 or so from last week. The numbers of G.C.Grebes on the sea were much much lower as well as the Wigeon ,well over half the number have disappeared in the past week. Curlew have increased to well over 220, with two Ruff,and two Bl.T.Godwit at the pools. As the tide came up, it brought in five Velvet Scoters . Birds of prey made good viewing with three each of Buzzard and Marsh Harrier. A Peregrine and a S.E.Owl finished off a good mornings sightings. Good birdwatching Pete.

27th February 2012, Monday

Pett Level, Sunday 26th

A fine, calm and sunny morning, with 6 Red-throated Divers on a flat sea, 59 Whitefronts, 4 Pinkfeet, 13 Brents, 4 Ruddy Ducks, a Peregrine, 3-4 Buzzards, 11 Avocets on Carter’s flood, and a Short-eared Owl behind the pools.

27th February 2012, Monday

Bumblebee Events Kent/ Sussex 2012

These events are being run by Nikkii Gammans of Bumblebee Conservation Trust as part of an exctiting project click here.
•15th April RSPB Dungeness Bumblebee ID course- FULLY BOOKED
•6th June RSPB Dungeness walk and talk 2-4pm
•9th June RSPB Dungeness walk and talk 2-4pm
•21st June High Weald AONB event to be arranged
•24th June Maidstone Mote Park, stall 12-4pm
•30th June Great Dixter Gardens Insect day, talk
•7th July Folkestone Green Fair, stall
•7th July Tunbridge Wells walk and talk event to be arranged
•8th July Maidstone Mote Park walk and talk 2-4pm
•21st July Kent Wildlife Trust, Tyland Barn bumblebee ID course
•28th July RSPB Dungeness walk and talk 2-4pm
•1st August RSPB Dungeness walk and talk 2-4pm
•5th August Rye Harbour Nature Reserve walk and talk 2-4pm
•11-12th August RSPB Dungeness kids fun weekend, stall and walks
•18-19th August Kent Wildlife Trust Sevenoaks wildlife festival, stall
•26-21st August Sandwich Bay wildlife festival, stall
Please contact the venue for further information on car parking, bookings and times where not listed.

26th February 2012, Sunday

A rare diving beetle in Rye


On Thursday morning I found this large water beetle in my moth trap in Rye, length 36 mm. Although similar to the common Great Diving Beetle (Dytiscus marginalis) illustrated in Chinery’s Collins Pocket Guide to Insects, there were notable differences, so I searched for Dytiscus beetles on the web and found that it matched a female D. dimidiatus, the Thick-horned Diving Beetle. In March 2000 the Interreg II Project published a major report, The Coleoptera of Rye Bay, by Barry Yates and P.J. Hodge. This said that Dytiscus dimidiatus is confined to a few areas of ancient wetland including the Somerset and Gwent Levels, Wicken and Woodwalton Fens, the Norfolk Broads, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay. In Britain it is now classified as Near Threatened. In Rye Bay the first record was at Northpoint in 1950 and there were only four more up to 2000, but Brian Banks tells me that he now finds it annually at Dungeness, New Romney and East Guldeford, so it seems to be spreading.
Read the rest of this entry »

25th February 2012, Saturday

Beach Reserve

Great time of year and a good feel to the place despite all the works in progress, birds that have taken a back seat during the winter months are now coming to the fore. Ringed Plovers and groups of noisy Oystercatchers can be found displaying, Skylarks are also in song. In addition a good selection of waders were present around the Flat Beach area 4 Avocet, 11 Ruff, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 24 Knot, 20 Dunlin, 400 Golden Plover and 300 Lapwing. The over wintering Spotted Redshank was again at Ternery Pool along with 11 Mediterranean Gulls and 100+ Black-headed Gulls. Also of note around 200 Great-crested Grebe and 40 Red-throated Diver were offshore out from Crittall Hide.


25th February 2012, Saturday

Fieldmice can be carnivores

I had heard about mice eating petrel chicks alive (click here), but didn’t realise that our Fieldmouse could also be a meat eater. In December I got this video of two Fieldmice looking like they might be tucking into a Rabbit carcass (especially the one at the back), but later in the night a Badger stole the carcass, so there was no evidence. But recently I had left a Rabbit carcass on top of a metal dustbin inside my workshop and yesterday there were signs of a Fieldmouse eating it – see photo (not for the squeamish) Read the rest of this entry »